On Monday, our second day here in Rwanda, the entire Steering Committee for Mercy4ubuzima—comprised of Cindy Carmichael, Cathy Dirickson, Reagan Hightower, John Nkuranga, Donald Rahhal and Laurie Weathers—revisited the four hospitals that we reviewed in 2013.
We were received warmly at each hospital. All were interested in working with us to implement our first pair of initiatives: Hand Hygiene and Patient Identification. The relationships that John Nkuranga has maintained in Rwanda have provided a great foundation of trust between our steering committee and those we are working with here. Without this spirit of collaboration, our mission would not function and be fruitful in the way that it has been so far.
We were interested and pleased to see some of the creative practices that these hospitals are using in lieu of more expensive supplies and methods. As pictured below, one of the hospitals has fashioned “wheel chairs” by attaching wheels and foot rests to plastic lawn chairs. At another (bottom right photo), a mother of twins uses the “Kangaroo Care” technique. When providing “Kangaroo Care,” a mother maintains skin-to-skin contact with her infants for extended periods of time. This practice has many benefits, and most importantly provides security, encourages breast-feeding, and helps to regulate the body temperatures of premature babies. In areas where incubators are not available, this method has been shown to be an effective alternative. In fact, most Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) in the United States use Kangaroo Care instead of or in addition to traditional and more technologically advanced methods of neonatal care.
(For more on Kangaroo Care, check out the World Health Organization, KangarooMotherCare.com, or the information on the Cleveland Clinic’s site.)
Tuesday will be a very important day. We have invited 2 leaders from each hospital, the Vice Mayor, a physician from the Mayor’s office and a representative of the Minister of Health to a full-day meeting at our hotel in order to discuss the progress they’ve made in implementing the recommendations we made last year, and to seek their “buy-in” of our project. We are eager to hear what has been accomplished in the last year, as this will determine how the rest of the week goes.
Check back with our blog soon for a report of the progress that’s been made an update on what our potential next steps might be!